The angelic hierarchy is split into three groups of three; a trinitarian approach encapsulated within the iconography of most Western art since the Renaissance. The work of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite of the 4th / 5th century AD did much to resolve the confusion around angels, and their position within divinity (e.g. who createf them and when, and what role did they take).

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite especially looked to passages within the New Testament, e.g., Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, as he constructed a now long standing method of explaining angel’s  role and presence within biblical narrative.

The hierarchy, as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite understood it, is as follows;

Level One:

Seraphim

Cherubim (known for knowledge, and their role in eviction of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden),

Thrones

Level Two:

Dominions

Virtues

Powers (the most complex and fluid of layers).

Level Three:

Principalities

Archangels (often wrongly considered to be higher in the hierarchy)

Angels.

 Botticini, The Assumption of the Virgin (1475 – 1476, National Gallery, London).

This image demonstrates a Western Art fascination with depicting and explaining the complex and often ambiguous constructions of biblical angels. This work by Botticini shows the three hierarchies and the nine orders of angels, who each have different characteristics (loosely alluded to above).

 

 

 

Advertisements